web analytics
July 25, 2014 / 27 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Tza’ar Ba’alei Chaim

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

This column is dedicated to the refuah sheleimah of Shlomo Eliezer ben Chaya Sarah Elka.

In this week’s parshah Bilam decides to approach Balak with the intention of cursing the Bnei Yisrael. En route his donkey refused to continue on the path, continuing to veer to the side of the road. At one point the donkey smashed Bilam’s leg into the wall. Bilam hit his donkey three different times. The reason that his donkey would not proceed is because it saw that there was a malach standing in the road with his sword drawn. Bilam did not see this and therefore hit his donkey. Hashem then allowed the donkey to speak to Bilam and inform him as to why he was not continuing down the road. Then Hashem allowed Bilam to see the malach as well. The malach said to Bilam, “Why have you hit your donkey three times?”

The Rambam, in Moreh Nevuchim (chalek 3, perek 17), writes that this is the Torah source that one is not allowed to cause pain to an animal – known as tza’ar ba’alei chaim. There are many other sources brought in the Rishonim and Acharonim regarding this. Rashi, in Shabbos 128b, says that tza’ar ba’alei chaim is derived from the pasuk in Parshas Mishpatim, “Azov ta’azov imo.” Rabbeinu Peretz, in Baba Metzia 32b, says that there is no Torah source for tza’ar ba’alei chaim; rather, it is a halacha l’Moshe miSinai. The Shita Mekubetzes, in Baba Metzia there, quotes a Ra’avad that says that it is drawn from the aveirah of placing a muzzle on an ox when he is plowing. The Charedim (14:1) says that tza’ar ba’alei chaim is part of the mitzvah of vehalachta bidrachav (and we should follow in Hashem’s ways). The Chasam Sofer, in Baba Metzia there, says that tza’ar ba’alei chaim is derived from the pasuk of “verachamav al kol ma’asav” (and He has mercy on all of His creations).

However, the source that the Rambam cites is difficult to understand because the pasuk he cites is discussing a Ben Noach. Why was Bilam called out on the prohibition of tza’ar ba’alei chaim, when the Bnei Noach are not obligated in tza’ar ba’alei chaim? It is not one of the seven mitzvos that they are obligated to keep. In fact the Eishel Avraham (Mebutchach Orach Chaim 305 on the Magen Avraham 13) and the Pri Megadim (Mishbitzos Zahav Orach Chaim 468:2) say that the Bnei Noach are not obligated in tza’ar ba’alei chaim. It seems from the Rambam that cites the source for tza’ar ba’alei chaim from Bilam that the Bnei Noach are obligated in tza’ar ba’alei chaim. But why is this so?

Like the Rambam, the sefer Chassidim (666) says that the source for tza’ar ba’alei chaim is derived from Bilam and explains why the Bnei Noach are obligated in this mitzvah. It says that until the time of Noach people were not allowed to kill animals – even for the purpose of eating them. After the Mabul, Hashem allowed Noach and all future generations to kill animals for the sake of eating or benefiting from them. This permission was only granted for the purpose of eating and other benefits. Hurting an animal for no purpose would violate the original prohibition that was given to Adam HaRishon not to kill animals.

Another explanation can be offered based on Rabbeinu Nissim Gaon’s introduction to Gemara. He says there that everyone is obligated to keep any common-sense mitzvah. From the day that Hashem created the world and placed man in the world, it is incumbent upon man to follow common sense. Murdering innocent people and stealing are examples of things that everyone can understand not to do; thus they are obligated not to commit these wrongful acts. The Rokeach (366) says something similar, namely that everyone, including the Bnei Noach, are obligated to follow common-sense laws such as giving charity, respecting elders, and ensuring that one’s property is safe.

We can surely agree that tza’ar ba’alei chaim (torturing an animal for no benefit) is a common- sense law that should be forbidden. Thus Bilam was punished for hitting his donkey for no reason. Therefore, we can learn from this that we too are forbidden to do tza’ar ba’alei chaim.

One interesting point to note regarding this source for the aveirah of tza’ar ba’alei chaim is that Bilam thought that he was hitting his donkey for a good reason. If one has a legitimate cause to hit his animal he may do so, and it would not be a violation of tza’ar ba’alei chaim. Why then was Bilam punished for his actions? Even though his donkey saw the malach, Bilam did not. Bilam thought that his donkey was simply going astray for no reason. Thus he hit it.

Perhaps we can answer that the Bnei Noach are responsible for their actions even when those actions are b’shogeg – and are not forewarned. But the Rambam, in Hilchos Melachim 10:1, rules that this only applies when the person knows what he is doing; he just does not know that it is forbidden. For example, he knows that he is killing another person but does not know that this action is forbidden. In such a case he would be liable for the murder. However, in Bilam’s case, he did not know that what he was doing was baseless torture. So why was he punished for his actions?

The meforshim explain that the purpose of the malach appearing to Bilam, and at first only allowing the donkey to see him, was to send a message of humility to Bilam. Maybe Bilam was called out for hitting his donkey, as it was a wrong action, but he was not actually held accountable for his actions since they were indeed b’shogeg.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Tza’ar Ba’alei Chaim

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
cease fire!
Ceasefire Talks Again
Latest Judaism Stories
Rabbi Avi Weiss

When taking any major step in life it is a good idea to carefully re-evaluate one’s past.

Rabbi Sacks

Ours is a small and intensely vulnerable people. Inspired, we rise to greatness. Uninspired, we fall

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

The enormity of Hiram’s accomplishments crazed him and deluded him into self-deification.

The-Shmuz

When Hashem first thought (if it could be) about creating the world, the middah of din was in operation.

Hallel On Purim?
“Its Reading Is Its Praise”
(Megillah 14a)

If the only person available to perform the milah on the eighth day is a person who is not an observant Jew, the milah should be postponed until a devout mohel is available.

It is apparent from the Maharsha that he does not see galus as atoning for killing accidentally; otherwise, this Gemara would not bother him.

It was found to be a giant deer tick living in her head – with its claws in her scalp.

While daydreaming about finding the perfect job, I never expected to be rewarded in spades for my aforementioned experience.

We are all entrusted with the mission of protecting our fellow Jews

Today, we remain Hashem’s nachal.

Will Your brothers go to war, while you sit (in peace) here? (Bamidbar 32:6)

Perhaps, just perhaps, we can relate to this: whenever we feel distant from Hashem, that is the Churban.

Over the next 2 weeks covering portion Matot and Maasei, Rabbi Fohrman will bring order to confusion.

Our home is in the center of the Holy Land, surrounded by (what else?) green hills and valleys.

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

It is apparent from the Maharsha that he does not see galus as atoning for killing accidentally; otherwise, this Gemara would not bother him.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

There are several rules that one must adhere to when making a neder.

We need to understand why Moshe Rabbeinu decided to ask that his sons inherit his position after this new halacha was introduced.

If it is not prohibited when there is a purpose for inflicting the tza’ar, why was Bilam chastised for tza’ar ba’alei chaim?

How can we be certain that any animal can be counted toward ma’asar beheimah when perhaps it is a treifah?

This separation between Kohanim, Levi’im and Yisraelim obligates us to honor kohanim.

The pasuk says that since the halacha concerning a Mechallel Shabbos was uncertain, the mekoshesh was placed in custody until the halacha was clarified.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/tzaar-baalei-chaim/2013/06/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: